Attorney Douglass Hiatt filed the suit based on the position that Seattle’s medical marijuana regulation violates the Fifth Amendment, as it is de facto admittance that one is committing a federal crime. Though medicinal cannabis is legal in the state of Washington, the U.S. government does not recognize the right of individual states to legalize medi-pot.

Given Seattle’s diversity and the number of dispensaries within its borders, there is no uniform position on the medical pot controversy; while Hiatt is opposed to the ordinance, pro-pot attorney Pete Holmes backs it all the way. The Washington Alternative Medicine Alliance voiced opposition to Hiatt’s suit, telling The Seattle Times that it could destabilize the attempt by Holmes and Mayor Mike McGinn, who openly supports pot legalization, to bring order to the city’s medical marijuana industry. Whether or not such regulation is necessary and will ultimately prove to be beneficial remains to be seen.

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The suit also accuses the city of legal hypocrisy, because they require dispensary operators to obtain licenses, pay taxes and obey zoning regulations while continuing to enforce drug nuisance laws against pot smokers and other drug users. 

Holmes, McGinn and the city of Seattle implemented the ordinance in July after Governor Chris Gregoire granted permission to the municipalities of Washington State to regulate medical marijuana as they saw fit. But Hiatt told The Times that the ordinance does not protect dispensary operators, but rather, will strengthen the case of U.S. attorneys looking to convict them in federal court should that day arrive.